Parents, Children and Educators Learn about Education

Eunice Macedo, Sofia Santos | 14.09.2015 | Projects - Articles
The event Ser EducAção [Being Education] took place on the 4th, 5th and 6th of September in the small village of Soajo, Gerês, inland and to the North of Portugal. The participants were young parents and their children, and young - and not so young - educators with an interest in alternative education.                              
The aims of the encounter were to reflect about how to be, educate and act in education in order to provide for - or be part of - meaningful learning. Some of the intentions in the brochure of the event were to promote comprehensive, participatory and sustainable education; to strengthen networks among parents, educators, children, projects, residents, community services and institutions in Northern Portugal; to contribute towards the creation of a learning community in Soajo; to enhance village customs and its local development. These came together with the opportunity to explore the strange and remarkable nature of the region and to enjoy a liberating weekend that raised awareness and inspiration

A friendly ambience

The ambience was cheerful and the debates were lively and stimulating. Children and adults engaged in play. There was neither shouting nor the need for disciplinary measures to keep the children quiet. They were also having fun. Informal gatherings and discussions, circles of sharing and presentations of ongoing projects were balanced against sufficient time to play and walk around. Workshops on forms of learning that appeal to emotions and the whole body as a whole sensor for learning gave a special focus to the event. Extending as they did, well beyond the usual emphasis upon the communication of content defined centrally by the national educational system within European guidelines, these activities proved to be extremely successful.

The education we desire

Very diverse stakeholders enriched the event by participating in the debate and standing up for their own experiences and beliefs about education, something seen as a natural part of life. Some were interviewed by two researchers who were invited to observe, listen, participate in sessions and talk to people to understand and analyze their views and expectations. In the tension between the education “we have” and the one “we desire”, the main concerns expressed by interviewees related to the existence of an adult-centered form of education that is deaf and dumb to life and to people, as distinct from the claim for a holistic form of education. One based upon decision-making, freedom, self-fulfillment, and the love for others and our Mother Earth. The latter clearly emerged as the form of education that made most sense to those attending this event.

Weaving as a bridge

On the other side of the coin, local people sitting on the local central café had a startled look. Who are these strangers? What are they doing here? These appeared to be the queries expressed on their faces. After some time, perhaps won over by the happy foreign children and the workshops on local traditional knowledge such as weaving – led by locals and engaging foreign participants with hands on learning - the distance between locals and visitors was reduced. There still seems to be a great gulf between these two different worlds, worlds that appear to be living the 21st century at different speeds.

Participation by donation

Promoted by the Associação@Moving Cause [Association Moving Cause] and the project Manta do Gato [Cat Plaid], this event engaged a wide set of entities such as the Project Escola Viva [Living School, Academia José Moreira da Silva, Cooperativa dos Pedreiros], CIIE.FPCEUP [Centre for Research and Intervention in Education of Faculdade de Psicologia e de Ciências da Educação da Universidade do Porto] and IPFP [Paulo Freire Institute of Portugal] to name but a few. Participation by donation was another interesting feature of this event that wanted to cater for all and that was built on trust.

To sum up we may say the event achieved and exceeded its aims and objectives. Ultimately, there is hope for education, and a different world now seems to be possible.

Details:

Topics/Keywords: Practice => Project
Subjects / Target groups => Families
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